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Stonehenge Gets a Makeover



It took only 27 million pounds or $44 million to give Britain’s ancient Stonehenge a makeover and the visitors to the site are in for a modern treat.  The renovations include a new timber and glass visitor center building about 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) from the stones where over 1 million a year visitors can watch an exhibition about Neolithic life.
Late last year, in December 2013, journalists and English Heritage members were given a preview of the new center, which houses a 360-degree “virtual tour” of the monument, along with an extensive exhibition about how Stonehenge is believed to have been built about 5,000 years ago. So, what should the tourists and visitors expect when they arrive this year to see the site? The idea has been to return Stonehenge which is located 80 miles (130 kilometers) southwest of London, to its rural landscape. Visitors should expect to be transported to the stones on a special shuttle, or they can walk, exploring an ancient processional approach route that for years has been cut in half by asphalt. Inside, the exhibition will show that the monument’s prehistoric creators were sophisticated people, who raised pigs and hunted, gathered from far and wide for feasts and built this remarkable, mysterious monument.

The renovations which were funded partly through donations and partly through a levy on profits of Britain’s national lottery, has also almost doubled the entry ticket, from 8 pounds ($13) to 14.90 pounds ($24) for an adult. However, the visitors beside watching the virtual tour, will see a modern cafeteria and a large gift shop, where visitors can buy many souvenirs including jam, chocolate, baseball caps, mouse pads and fridge magnets, as well as “Stonehenge Rocks” T-shirts as Associated Press reports. It is believed that Stonehenge was built in three phases between 3000 B.C. and 1600 B.C.

Archaeologists and experts now agree that the site was a temple and a giant burial ground for elite families. Archaeologists have found the remains of dozens of cremated bodies from about 3000 B.C. whose location was marked by bluestones.  More evidence also suggests large crowds gathered at Stonehenge for the summer and winter solstices, a tradition that continues today.  More research and exactions will be done in years to come as more than half the site remains unexcavated.

Perspolis’ Deteriorating Condition


Photos by Farzad Aryanfarzadaryan2014-1

According to the reports coming out of Iran and received by WCHV, the Persepolis area is in very poor condition. This area is considered part of the Iran’s World Heritage site and for the last few years, important safeguarding and preservation have not been done for this historical site which is a few thousand years old. Unfortunately, warnings by the activists of Cultural heritage, as well as the Pasargad Heritage Foundation’s reports to the UNESCO have so far not produced any results.

Persepolis was founded by Darius I in 518 B.C., Persepolis was the capital of the Achaemenid Empire. It was built on an immense half-artificial, half-natural terrace, where the king of kings created an impressive palace complex inspired by Mesopotamian models. The importance and quality of the monumental ruins make it a unique archaeological site.

UNESCO declared the citadel of Persepolis a World Heritage Site in 1979.

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“Faces of Love”: Dick Davis Translates Hafez




Dr. Dick Davis, a leading scholar of medieval Persian literature in the Western world, calls Hafez, the poetry world’s version of Bach and compares Shiraz, the city where Hafez lived at the time with Venice.

“People say that Bach sort of gathered together everything that had gone before him in music and brought it into a new kind of stage. Hafez did the same with the conventions of lyric poetry,” Davis said in an interview with PBS in December 2013.

Hafez is greatly featured in Davis’ new book (Published in 2013), “Faces of Love: Hafez and the Poets of Shiraz.” Davis translated poems by Hafez, Jahan Malek Khatun and Obayd-e Zakani, all poets from 14th century Shiraz.  Davis who is a poet himself, has translated other Persian poetry in the past.  He went to Iran as a young man, ended up staying for eight years, married an Iranian and then returned to England and obtained a Ph.D. from University of Manchester, in order to bring pieces of Iran to the West.
In the interview Davis explains that “Faces of Love” shows a side of Iran that we don’t often hear about, especially from news headlines. For him, it’s an important side of Iran that he thinks more people should understand. After all, poetry is integral to Iranian culture.

Khwāja Shamsu d-Dīn Muhammad Hāfez-e Shīrāzī known by his pen name Hāfez (1325/26 C.E.–1389/1390 C.E.) was a Persian poet. The work of Hāfez would leave a mark on such Western writers as Thoreau, Goethe, and Ralph Waldo Emerson—the latter referring to him as “a poet’s poet.” His work was first translated into English in 1771 by William Jones.

Check out a video from Dr. Dick Davis here video_button


U.S. Loses Voting Rights at UNESCO




unescoTwo years after cutting off financial contributions to UNESCO, the United States of America lost its voting rights late last year (2013). UNESCO has been greatly supported by the U.S. since its inception and many experts and diplomats believe that this latest development will greatly undermine America’s ability to exercise its influence in countries around the globe through the United Nations agency’s educational and aid programs.
Under UNESCO’s constitution, any country that fails to pay dues for two years loses its vote in the UNESCO general assembly. The United States ceased all support for the agency in 2011, in response to a vote at UNESCO giving Palestinians full membership, and it was the first time that the U.S. had voluntarily given up its vote in a UN organization. The U.S. Congress enacted laws in the 1990s decreeing that the United States stop providing money to any United Nations agency that accepts Palestinians as full members.
UNESCO has expressed regret over the outcome and stated that what has happened is not some kind of punishment on behalf of UNESCO for nonpayment, but the rules and the organization feel very sorry as it has lost it’s biggest contributor as well as miss the voice of the U.S. on issues like freedom of expression and girls’ education.
Late in 2013, during the UNESCO general conference in Paris, The American ambassador to UNESCO, David T. Killion, spoke about the recent developments and noted that the U.S. had been involved in the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization since its beginnings in 1945 and promised that it would remain involved. He praised UNESCO for its role in consensus and peace building, saying the agency was important for American work abroad.
According to the reports, before withdrawing its financial support, the U.S. provided about $70 million, or 22 percent, of the agency’s annual budget, and the suspension was felt almost immediately. Some UNESCO staff members were laid off and programs and projects delayed, including some that potentially could have benefited the United States. In response, UNESCO created an emergency fund and got contributions from Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Norway and other countries.

The Critical Condition of Iranian Boxwood Trees


boxwoodIt has been less than three years since the pest by the name of fungus Buxicola cylindrocladium became prevalent in the forests of Northern part of Iran. During 2012 summer, disease symptoms and severe defoliation of boxwood trees were seen in two areas. This pest specifically attacks the leaves and branches of the Buxus hyrcana.  Based on the latest assessments around 55,000 acre of the forests of the northern part of Iran are affected by this fungus.

Boxwood (Buxus hyrcana Pojark) is one of the protected evergreen trees species that grow as compact colonies in the preserved forests of the Caspian Sea region of Iran. boxwood2The Buxus hyrcana is one of the most outstanding and unique species of Hyrcanian forest of northern part of Iran, and southern part of the Caspian Sea. It is also believed to be the relics of the third geology era and is one of the first species trees ever to exist. The Buxus hyrcana or scientific name of Buxus hyrcana Pojark is in the list of endangered plant species of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

It is believed that several reasons have contributed to the current crisis and these include: decreased amount of precipitation; increasing temperature; and imported wood affected by disease-causing fungus. Unfortunately, no major prevention and treatment measures have been undertaken by the authorities and no public awareness steps have so far been offered.

Destruction of Jamshidieh Park


park-12Jamshidieh Park, in the north of Tehran is being destroyed, paving the way for the construction of a few high-rises. The old and famous park has been registered as a national intangible heritage of Iran and is one of the important green areas of a city suffering from dangerous air pollution. The ownership of the park was recently transferred to a government-owned bank and the new owner has decided to build the high-rises and destroy the park, and this decision is approved by the Tehran mayor. Many people including environmental activists and even parliament delegates have protested this incredibly poor act.
Jamshidieh Park (or Jamshidieh Stone Garden) is located in the neighbourhood of Niavaran at the base of Kolakchal mountain. The Stone Garden became a public park in 1977, and was reconstructed and expanded to 16 hectares with the addition of Ferdowsi garden in 1995. The premises were established as a private garden by the Qajar prince and engineer Jamshid Davallu Qajar.  (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Kolakchal&action=edit&redlink=1)

Before Destruction:

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After Destruction:

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